Bulldog Food Pantry takes on food insecurity

Bulldog Food Pantry takes on food insecurity

Students are met with food insecurity nationwide, a problem that is being taken head-on at Southwestern Oklahoma State University with the opening of the Bulldog Food Pantry.

The Bulldog Pantry, which had a soft opening on Nov. 15 in the SWOSU Wellness Center, is here to help in fighting the issue of students not having adequate healthy food resources.

“The Bulldog Food Pantry is a resource for our students who are experiencing food insecurity,” Jennifer Cook-Johns, a grant specialist at SWOSU said.

She added that any student enrolled at SWOSU who is facing food insecurity is welcome to come and grab food once a month from the pantry, free of charge.

Cook-Johns said a lot of students were facing the tough task of obtaining healthy food resources due to financial difficulties even before the pandemic struck the world. The pandemic only made things tougher on students and their families.

“We know that when our students have their needs met, they are more prepared for success in the classroom,” Cook-Johns said of the benefit that the Bulldog Food Pantry brings.

The new program is coming to fruition thanks to Dr. Anne Pate’s research on the struggles for food that SWOSU students face. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Strengthening Institutions Program also played a part in funding for the pantry. The fund was brought in to aid in the struggles that institutions and their students are facing due to the pandemic.

The Bulldog Pantry will be led by a board of Cook-Johns, C.J. Smith, Dr. Raygan Chain and Dr. Geo Kelly. The board has also hired Lisa Nugent to manage day-to-day operations of the pantry and to coordinate volunteers.

“There are so many incredible resources in our community already and we hope that the Bulldog Food Pantry will fill the gaps to help our students,” Cook-Johns said.

Those who would like to volunteer can reach Lisa Nugent at [email protected] or at 580-774-7173.